HS2: MP sold home on rail route weeks before coalition okayed it

Jan 15, 2012

Cheryl Gillan under intense pressure after selling home situated just 500m from the controversial trainline

WITH HER constituency on the proposed route of the HS2 rail line, MP Cheryl Gillan came under intense pressure to oppose the proposals. Now it has emerged that she sold her constituency home – situated 500m from the planned line – just weeks before it was given the go-ahead.

Many of Gillan's Chesham and Amersham constituents object to the plans which will see the new line scythe through the picturesque Tory heartlands. A vociferous 'no' campaign has veteran actor Geoffrey Palmer as a figurehead.

Gillan initially threatened to resign her cabinet position – she is Wales secretary – if the line was approved by transport secretary Justine Greening. When Greening agreed to build longer tunnels on the South Buckinghamshire section of the route, Gillan decided to stay in post.

Many constituents were enraged by this 'climb-down'. Their anger has only been worsened by the news that the MP no longer has a home in her constituency – and the timing of the sale is extremely embarrassing for her.

The Sunday Telegraph reports that banners have appeared around the constituency this weekend reading "Cheryl, you let us down. Go now."

George Allison, 71, the treasurer of the HS2 Amersham Action Group, said: "Mrs Gillan should not be selling her house and she should be fighting HS2."

The Telegraph speculates that Gillan might be in breech of the Ministerial Code, observing: "It is possible that Mrs Gillan would have obtained a significantly lower price for her Amersham home after Justine Greening, the transport secretary, gave the go-ahead for HS2 last Tuesday."

A spokesman for the MP was at pains to stress that she had not made a killing: the house went for £320,000. After more than a year on the market, she and her husband decided to accept an offer 20 per cent below their original asking price.

He added that they had sold the house because both Gillan, 59, and her 84-year-old husband have mobility problems and could no longer cope with the stairs.

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